The Game feat. 50 Cent — “Hate It or Love It”

Released: 3.15.05

Peak: #2

Man, has “featuring” ever been more true? Without the wired-jaw monotone of Curtis Jackson (for whom my grudging appreciation has never once intensified into love or hate, song title be damned), the putative artist here would be left roaming in circles around those killer Trammps’ horns in search of a clue. I hope, though, that Cool & Dre would’ve had the good sense not to waste “Rubber Band” on such a knob and gone straight to Mary J. Blige, whose later take on the same track, “MJB Da MVP,” I wish I liked enough to give the nod instead.

Sometimes I feel like the whole of mid-decade hip-hop was a Jimmy Iovine conspiracy to make 50 Cent seem charismatic, and for such a purpose, the Cali chump who slapped his name on this single sure served as a better foil than Eminem. I’m not sure that suspected plot is more or less insidious for having worked. Brandishing a smug pride in his limited imagination, 50 set the emotional and sonic borders of his era’s chart-hop, beyond which only the most intrepid MCs ventured, and “Hate It Or Love It” distilled his cramped, crabbed spirit into a celebration of material triumph as undeniably as “Mo Money, Mo Problems” had distilled Biggie’s far more generous soul.

The Game, though–shit but dude had nothing to say, and he rhymed like it too. His verse on “Hate It or Love It” drops some street crime clichés, sleepwalks through “What’s Goin’ On,” and ends on a semi-pro-life shout out to moms for not aborting him. As for the rest of The Documentary, its pointless name-dropping (Game’s original title was Nigga Witta Attitude Vol. 1, though fortunately we have laws to prevent that) hitting rock bottom when he equates his fantasy of “fuckin’ an R’n’B bitch like Mya” with the dreams of MLK. Sometimes one great hook can carry a no-talent past his limitations–but no further. After his later falling out with G-Unit, Game has been left with only a few straggling supporters. “I ain’t goin’ nowhere,” he bragged, which makes one thing he got right.

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